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News Maryland Harford County Abingdon

Former 98 Rock DJ held without bail in probation violation

A former 98 Rock radio personality, who served time in jail after being involved in a 2012 drunk-driving accident in Harford County, is back behind bars, accused of violating his probation in that case. A judge said Friday he'll have to stay there.

Stephen Gregory Smith, 50, who went by the nickname "Stash" during his more than 20-year radio career, was denied bail during a hearing in Harford County District Court regarding the probation violation, which stems from a new charge of driving under the influence.

A Maryland State Police trooper stopped Smith in the 3400 block of Route 22 on Feb. 3 and charged him with driving under the influence, according to online court records.

A series of other traffic charges were filed the latest incident, according to court records, including speeding, failure to display a vehicle registration when asked for it and not having his vehicle equipped with an "interlock" device that prevents it from starting if the driver's breath indicates he or she is intoxicated.

Those latest charges triggered the probation violation, according to Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Judge Susan H. Hazlett was presiding over Friday's bail reviews, but Smith's attorney, David Resnick of Baltimore, suggested that she recuse herself from his client's review because of her familiarity with his previous case.

In October 2012, Hazlett sentenced Smith to serve six months in jail after he pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence. He was also placed on supervised probation for three years following his release, according to the Maryland Department of Parole and Probation.

In that case, Smith was involved in a three-vehicle crash in July 2012 on Route 24 near the interchange with I-95 in Abingdon. Five other people were injured in the accident; Smith was charged and later fired from his position with 98 Rock.

The judge agreed to recuse herself from Friday's hearing.

"If you'll step back, I'll find one of my colleagues who's available," she told Resnick.

Resnick returned to the courtroom gallery while Hazlett handled the other bail reviews on her docket.

The court then recessed briefly until Judge Victor K. Butanis took the bench and Smith's bail review reconvened.

On the closed-circuit television link between the Harford County Detention Center and the courtroom, Smith said he has been living in a recovery house in Millersville, in Anne Arundel County, while his family remains in Bel Air.

He began talking about how he "thought it was best" to continue his recovery following treatment, until his lawyer stopped him from saying anything other than direct answers to the judge's questions.

"Mr Smith has taken Herculean steps to separate himself from his family to deal with that [alcohol] problem," Resnick told Butanis.

Resnick noted his client is employed and turned himself in Thursday on the probation violation.

Resnick asked Butanis to release Smith on his own recognizance or set "a reasonable bail."

Assistant State's Attorney Cameron Legg argued that the violation is one of several alcohol- or drug-related crimes Smith has been charged with and convicted of since 2001, including the one connected with the 2012 accident.

"The state's primary concern is the danger to the community," Legg told the judge.

The prosecutor recommended Smith be held without bail until his trial on the latest traffic charges, which is set for April 28, according to court records.

Butanis agreed and ordered Smith to remain in jail without bail.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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